In Online Ed, Content Is No Longer King—Cohorts Are

I love this article. It points out that in a world with tons of content providers where there is a race to the bottom on the price of content, the scarcity is in cohorts.

It is clear that MOOCs are a failure:

The premise of MOOCs was optimistic: If given access to content and knowledge, learners will be self-driven to study, engage, and master the subject at hand. But while these platforms provided access to both creators and learners, they didn’t deliver on the promise of student transformation.

On many MOOC platforms, the dominant learning modality is passive content consumption; there’s no interaction or real community; and there’s no time constraint. All this amounts to a tiny percentage of learners who actually follow through.

Working via cohorts is the way to add urgency, competitiveness, and a sense of purpose:

So are cohort-based courses really that different from MOOCs? Some critics dismiss them as MOOCs in new clothing; essentially the same thing trotted back out with a pricey facelift. But the inherent structure, format, and modalities of cohort-based courses are very different.

Cohort-based courses could fulfill the promise of online education, particularly as students continue to support each other after they complete the courses — and as the cohort forms a tight, internet-native alumni network.